Empowering each other as Indigenous people is important
By Shari Narine
For Patricia Barlow-Arcaro, 26, pride in self, culture and history is important.
“Growing up, I really wished that I shared my culture much more often, that I wasn’t shy about myself as a person, that I was more proud and that I never questioned or self-doubted myself when it came to new opportunities,” she said
Barlow is showing that pride in the career she has chosen. She is presently enrolled at the New Brunswick College of Craft and Design for a fashion design diploma. A M’ikmaq from Indian Island First Nation, Barlow plans to begin a clothing brand of contemporary Aboriginal apparel with the intention of representing the Mi’kmaq art and culture and to instill pride in her people. Also a visual artist, her work is currently held at the Fredericton Delta, University of New Brunswick, and Government of New Brunswick.
“Although I cannot change my past, I would love to provide pride to someone else who is currently in that position where I once was and change his or her life for the better,” Barlow said.
She sees her nomination to the Cando National Youth Panel as an opportunity to do just that. Barlow sets two other priorities: bringing awareness and teaching about self-worth, and encouraging Indigenous youth to work together and support each other.
“As Indigenous peoples, we would be so much better if we all empowered each other, to the point where the rest of Canada is proud and amazed that we are the original Canadians, as they should be. By empowering and being aware of each other’s accomplishments, I truly believe we can fix many of our problems as well as be one of the most contributing members to society,” she said.
Barlow is “honoured” to be nominated to the panel, noting that previous youth panelists have all been “great Indigenous people that did amazing things and contributed so much to their own communities” and she is eager to follow in their footsteps. She feels that she can also bring the unique perspective of being her own boss as an entrepreneur and artisan.
“By helping each other, we can all become greater and continue to be the resilient people that our ancestors were known for,” she said.
Each year Cando selects six Indigenous youth to form the National Youth Panel, a signature event at the Cando Annual National Conference which will be held in Fredericton, New Brunswick, from Oct. 22-25. Selections for the panel are based on their strengths, initiatives, accomplishments, entrepreneurial spirit, and participation within their communities.